We’re faced with the same dilemma, today, that people have struggled with for years: how do we fit all the tasks we have to complete into our day?
No matter how much we have to do, we should still try our best to complete it all in one day, even if it seems impossible. We all know how great it feels to get everything done. So how do we do that?
It’s an age old question, and it affects us all. Between our careers, family, daily chores and personal interests we can often run out of hours in a single day, forcing us to push some tasks to the following day– It doesn’t have to be that way.
There are hundreds of techniques to better manage ones time. Together with research, and years of practice, I’ve found the following techniques to be the most productive.
1. Never Touch Things Twice
Something many of us have a habit of doing, is leaving tasks to a later time, even when we may have everything we need to complete the task right in front of us. This is such a time waster, and almost always breaks the momentum that may have been built up by causing delays in the execution of other tasks.
I dive deeper into the subject of procrastination in much more detail in this post. As soon as we’re ready to tackle a task, and have what we need, we should take the time to get it over with and crossed of our “to do” list– Especially when a task takes five minutes or less to complete.
2. Take Care of Your Most Difficult Task First
If you have many tasks on your to do list, begin working on the task that you think will take the most time, or perhaps the task that you wish to work on the least. The reason behind this reasoning, is that you will usually have a higher level of strength and motivation when starting on your “to-do” list.
Not everybody is the same and some people actually gain momentum with each item they cross off their “to-do” list. Even so, it is still a good idea to take care of your most difficult tasks first. This way, as the day goes on, and you use more mental energy, you are left with your most loved or ‘easier’ tasks before you go to bed.
3. Don’t Fall Prey to ‘Urgent’ Tasks
Each and every day, we are presented with a plethora of tasks that need to get done before our head hits the pillow that night. However, a lot of these tasks may be a dark knight in disguise. Some tasks may seem urgent at first and second glance, but may in fact be taking up more of your time that is really necessary – or keeping you busy at a time when you should be working on another task.
It’s not a good idea to leave things to the last moment, but it is often a good idea to take care of tasks for a set amount of time, planned before they need actually be completed. That way you only spend as much effort as is necessary and minimize the amount of wasted time.
4. Be Prepared to Say No
We always have so many things we want to get done during the course of our day. Doing the shopping, writing an article, hitting the gym, answering emails etc. the list is endless for all of us. It is great to be busy, but sometimes we make ourselves needlessly busy. Why spend five hours out on the town on Saturday night when it is essentially going to affect our performance on Sunday? Why agree to co-direct a play when you know it will directly push back that project deadline you’ve been working towards?
So often we say yes because it is the easiest thing to do and we fear hoe others may react if we say no. The fact is, what they say or what they think doesn’t matter one bit. We are in charge of ourselves and we make our own decisions. Make a point to say no more often, and watch your productivity rise and your stress levels drop.
5. Make Calls & Check Emails on a Schedule
I don’t know about you, but I used to check my email as soon as I get a notification that one had arrived. I used to answer all calls on the spot and make any call I had, right away. In all honestly, this killed my concentration. Do not allow these distractions to get in the way of your other, more important tasks.
You will always be getting emails and phone calls, at least once every day or sometimes every hour… think of how much more you will get done if you simply schedule in when you answer, write, and make phone calls.
6. Avoid Multitasking
This really is an age-old topic of discussion, and there are so many mixed feelings about this topic across the web. I’ll tell you, I used to be a massive advocate of multitasking, however, I have come to understand that not all tasks can or should be done in conjunction with one another.
I’ve found that while I can cook while reading, or watch a documentary while I can clean up, or jog and listen to a podcast, I cannot write a blog post and speak on the phone, and I cannot read and listen to a documentary either. So, multitasking can be utilized for many tasks, but not for everything!
Leave a comment and let me know what you think about this topic, and which points you agree with most.